UGANDAN President, Yoweri Museveni, has called for a positive change of policy on the use of fossil fuels in the wake of the war in Ukraine that has exacerbated the demand for oil and gas globally.
Noting that the green lobby has been pushing for less use of fossil fuels and more of renewable energy such as solar and wind, he said: ‘Given that demand for oil and gas remains as high as ever, the only effect of the [green] policy has been to reduce supply options, creating dependency on hostile nations.
‘It is clearly time, therefore, for a rethink on how the transition to green energy is made.’
The Ugandan leader’s intervention in the global energy crisis came in an article he wrote for the British newspaper, The Daily Telegraph, earlier this week.
Touting the discovery of oil in his country’s Lake Albert basin, Museveni said local celebration of the find had been tempered by ‘criticism from developed and already industrialised nations in the West’.
He noted that Europe and the US had, for more than a decade, been trying to change over to renewable energy.
‘Of course, their green ambitions are laudable, but the way they are going about realising them, by imposing a moratorium on fossil fuel investment at home and abroad, is misguided,’ he said.
Museveni pointed out that for Africa, where the population is expected to double to 2.5 billion by 2050, ‘it is becoming increasingly clear that our energy needs cannot be met with a sudden shift to more expensive and less reliable solar and wind energy alone’.
‘Nor can renewables yet deliver the baseload required to boost manufacturing or industrialise agriculture – crucial for Africa in the wake of the pandemic,’ he added.
‘In light of the Ukraine war, the West, too, would do well to consider a change in policy – and initiatives like the Lake Albert basin oil project may form part of the answer.
‘By investing in oil and gas deposits in friendly nations, such as Uganda, Europe could decrease its reliance on other nations.
‘It is bizarre that European countries are so reticent about following this path,’ Museveni added.
On the contentious issue of global carbon emissions, he said that Africa was currently producing ‘just a fraction’ of these, and even if electricity consumption was tripled overnight in sub-Saharan Africa, excluding South Africa, the region would add only 0.6 per cent to emissions.
‘And yet the Lake Albert project, like other initiatives before, is now a battleground for the green NGOs and activists who claim that Armageddon is nigh at every opportunity,’ Museveni noted.
‘We are accustomed to these lectures, but we are tired of hearing them.’
Highlighting Uganda’s environmental credentials, Museveni said African countries agreed with the West about the need to eliminate fossil fuels over the long term in favour of renewables.
But he urged Western politicians to ‘adopt a more realistic approach to fossil fuels, particularly where developing countries are concerned’ and to lift the moratorium, for a start.
‘Like it or not, the world will remain dependent on oil for the foreseeable future,’ the Ugandan leader said.
‘Eventually, we can and must wean ourselves off it.
‘But we can do so without crippling development or becoming even more dependent on those that we would rather avoid.’
Museveni quoted the warning he gave at the UN Climate Conference (COP 26) in Glasgow last December: ‘If you conserve under-development, you can forget about conserving the environment.’